Birmingham’s NEC confirmed as temporary coronavirus hospital

Birmingham’s NEC will be used as a temporary field hospital for treating coronavirus patients, it has been confirmed.

The NEC is being turned into a temporary coronavirus hospital
The NEC is being turned into a temporary coronavirus hospital

In the daily briefing on Friday the chief executive of the NHS said he had given the green light for two more hospitals in addition to the hospital already being installed at London's ExCeL centre.

One of these will be built at the NEC, just three weeks after it hosted Crufts, and the other will be built at Manchester Central Convention Centre.

Sir Simon Stevens promising that "further such hospitals will follow".

The hospital based at the NEC in Birmingham will start with up to 500 beds equipped with the capacity to increase beds up to 2,000 if needed. The hospital based at the Manchester Central Complex will provide up to 500 beds but could expand further to 1,000 beds for coronavirus patients across the North West of England.

The new hospitals will provide support for patients from across the Midlands and the North West.

Confirmation that the two new NHS Nightingale sites are going ahead came as Sir Simon revealed that the NHS has freed up 33,000 beds across existing NHS hospitals for coronavirus patients, the equivalent of 50 new hospitals.

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Sir Simon said: “It will take a monumental effort from everyone across the country to beat this epidemic, but the NHS is mobilising like never before to deliver care in new ways, to thousands more people – starting with the opening of the first NHS Nightingale in London later next week.

“These are extraordinary steps the NHS is taking, and clinicians, managers and military planners are working day and night to create, equip and staff these hospitals from scratch and prepare for the surge that is likely to be coming.

“While we continue to pull out all the stops, we do need the public to play their part. Every single person in this country can make a difference by following the medical advice to the letter – stay at home, wash your hands, which will help stop the virus letting rip and will therefore save lives.”

The new hospitals will draw from predominantly NHS doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals from across the country. A number of military medics will be on hand to care for patients too.

The new hospitals are part of a huge NHS mobilisation plan to deal with the growing number of coronavirus patients.

Training

More than 18,000 doctors, nurses and other former NHS staff have already volunteered to return to fight the virus.

Staff members are then being put in touch with their local NHS services where a role based on their clinical skills and work history is found.

The opportunity to rejoin the NHS continues to be open to all former NHS staff from the last three years – even if they haven’t been contacted by their medical regulator.

All former staff that join the ‘NHS army’ are given a full induction and online training to help them to hit the ground running.

The renewed call comes after the NHS extended its 'Your NHS needs you' call to the general public, with already more than 725,000 people volunteering to help deliver medicines from pharmacies, drive patients to appointments, bringing patients home from hospital and making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

Other major centres have been set up to help the region cope with the Covid-19.

A mortuary capable of holding 1,500 bodies is being built at Birmingham Airport, while a huge food distribution centre has been set up at Aldersley Leisure Village in Wolverhampton to feed around 30,000 vulnerable people.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced earlier this week that the ExCeL site would become a temporary hospital equipped with two wards of 2,000 beds to cope with any patient surge in the capital.

Sir Simon Stevens also said NHS staff would start being tested for coronavirus from next week, including critical care nurses, intensive care staff, ambulance workers and GPs.

There are now 33,000 hospital beds available to treat coronavirus patients, he added, saying that 6,200 confirmed Covid-19 patients were being treated in English hospitals and he said that number is “only bound to rise in the coming days”.

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